Date:Monday October 10 2005
Not a bad summer, but certainly not the mighty summer it could have been. I'm convinced if Bruce had remained we'd have got more top quality, younger and less injury prone players. I think congratulations should go to Steve Stride and DOL for wheeling and dealing within the limits imposed by Ellis. Remember, the money for Baros was money brought over from last seasons failed Beattie transfer, so we've not exactly spent the promised 'significant funds'.
Aaron Hughes, £1million from Newcastle. A real snip, a great buy at that price, will be the new 'Mr Ronseal' he won't get the plaudits, he'll just do his job, game in and game out. A professional that many Geordie fans were annoyed to lose.
Kevin Phillips, £750 000 from Southampton. Could - should - will - end up the bargain of the summer. Slight doubts over whether he can remain fit, but if he does, he'll be fighting all the way with Baros to be our top scorer. Could easily become a 20 a season player. Have never been able to understand why the big boys hadn't come in for him over the years. Should have bought him for the £10million Sunderland wanted when GT asked for him. He would have guaranteed us Europe every season. Like Berger, a good few seasons too late but great to see him here, he looked head and shoulders above every player on the pitch when we played Bolton.
Patrik Berger, free from Pompey. Quality player, on his day amongst the best, but has had a terrible record with injuries over the last few seasons. Should have bought him directly from Liverpool, but if he can stay fit, a star player.
Stuart Taylor, in the region of £250 000 + add ons. Another bargain, touted as a great prospect by goalkeeping coach Bob Wilson. Has already had a positive effect on Sorenson who now has real competition. If Sorenson loses his place, he won't find it as easy to get it back as he did when Postma was No2.
Milan Baros, £6.5million from Liverpool. Hurrah, a star signing. You don't get the Golden Boot in the European Championships without being quality. Already linked up brilliantly with Phillips and looked very lively in his debut. Also taken the heat off himself by scoring his first goal. A young (23) and positive addition to the squad.
Wilfred Bouma, £3.5million from PSV. A Dutch Villa fan summed him up with one word 'brilliant'. Will no doubt forge a great partnership with Mellberg. Ridgewell will learn a great deal from these two and will continue to push for a place. Might struggle if those two remain injury free though.
Eirik Bakke, on loan until January. Was initially bought by DOL, is one of Leeds last big earners, has had an injury ravaged time of late, if he can remain fit, he's a big strong player, could be the holding midfielder we need. Have seen a report saying we also have an option to buy. Seems a good loan deal to me.
James Milner, a season long loan from Newcastle as part of the Nobby exit deal. Not seen any reports suggesting we have an option to buy. If we have that option, then it is a good deal, if we don't, then surely we are just treading water? The youngest player ever to score in the Premiership, has failed to hold down a regular place at Newcastle following a big money move from Leeds. Re-joining up with DOL. Given a regular berth, the left sided midfielder/winger, could prove very useful. Still only 19.
Carlton Cole, his loan wasn't extended and he was returned to Chelsea. I'd have got him into our squad if we could have bought him on the cheap (£1million ish) because if he gets his head sorted, he could be awesome, but on last seasons showing, no real loss.
Thomas Hitzlsperger, left on a Bosman. Was never convinced by him, apart from a great - albeit infrequent shot - he did little. Would have liked to see how he developed over the next few seasons, DOL had asked for his contract to be sorted out, the board didn't do so and we lost an asset.
Vaclav Drobny, loan didn't work out, was worth a look, nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Stefan Moore, free move to QPR. Never fulfilled his potential although to be fair, he never got his chance, will watch wit interest how he settles into the Championship, I hope he blossoms.
Darius Vassell, £2million + add ons to Manchester City. Never really got passed 'potential' for Villa. Got to the stage where he could have walked on a free at the end of the season, so £2ish million wasn't a terrible price but it was bad to let him get into that position. Having watched him playing for Man City, he looks the same, 'potential' he does cause defences problems with his pace, but he a) doesn't look up and pass when other players are in better positions b) doesn't look like he believes in his own abilities, it is that mental weakness that might not ever let him get beyond 'potential'. Personally, I'd have preferred him on a new contract and in our squad. I think he would have played well behind the front two, or on the wing as he has played for England.
Stefan Postma, on loan to Wolves until January. Originally the move broke down due to failing a medical. Never looked anywhere near the grade to me.
Mathieu Berson, full season loan to Auxerre. This is one that I will never understand. Fair enough, the manager sees these players each day, he makes his assessments, we don't understand all that goes on. BUT he looked quality every time he came on. Stood head and shoulders above the player that was always chosen above him - Hendrie - and always seemed to do the simple things well. He would pass and then move into space. After such a long chase, I can't see why he wasn't given a break, the stuff about being homesick, according to the player himself, was rubbish.
Nobby Solano, undisclosed fee thought to be in the region of £1.5million to Newcastle. New information this morning suggests he wanted a 2 year contract extension at Villa but wasn't going to be offered one. DOL made it clear, when Liverpool came looking, that he could leave if he wanted. DOL should have been saying the player was quality and was going nowhere. An error to lose a quality player but if he had been made unhappy by the fact his contract ran out at the end of the season, then maybe better to let him go. Should be in our team, incoming players may well wonder why the hell we have let quality go in order to get a 19 year old unproven player + an injury prone midfielder on loan.
So, the summer? Not bad quality wise, but certainly not outstanding. DOL wanted the likes of Scott Parker as well. If we didn't have Ellis, we would be competing for these players. Instead Ellis 'allowed' one big purchase then boasted how he got one over Liverpool and that his - HIS - outlay was nearly £21million. Shut up Doug. If you are staying, at least shut up, let Steve Stride and DOL do the work and the talking.
Still, two the signings this season are amongst my all time Prem favourites, Phillips and Berger. IF they both stay fit, alongside Baros who could become a holte end hero very quickly, we may just be fighting for Europe. A few injuries and the risks will become clear. No one can say that DOL or the fans haven't warned you Doug!
Take away the Baros money that was from last season, I reckon we've spent around £2-3 million.
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